Authentic Xi'an Food at Murger Hanhan

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Murger Hanhan was another of my Instagram discoveries; that seems to be the way with everything I've done more recently, not that I'm complaining because this was a great new find. Not only did the food look totally unfamiliar which was very exciting but they are running a ridiculous £10 deal throughout October (three courses and a drink) so I got Georgia on board asap and we headed to their Mayfair branch for lunch. 

The restaurant itself was very cool; dark and intimate of course with an oriental vibe - and well set up for Covid too, there was a mini hand santizer and full length plastic sheet dividers between each table.

The £10 menu gave us the option of two starters, a choice of 25 xi'an noodle dishes and a couple pieces of mochi for dessert - plus any soft drink from the menu.

Georgia went for the veggie starter which were gyozas but as soon as I see something I've heard of on a menu, I'm intrigued. The other option was a murger (or rou jia mo in Mandarin) which they explain as the world's oldest sandwich/hamburger. I can definitely see where that description came from but at the same time, it was so uniquely Asian and just not like a burger at all. The shredded, fatty pork was full of flavour and almost held together like a patty spread was across this strange round bread. It was dense and chewy and just very unfamiliar - but very delicious.

The handmade biang biang noodles were what I was there for and they didn't disappoint. I ordered beef and Georgia went for chicken, which came chopped up but still on the bone - something I got very used to in Southeast Asia but was a bit odd to see in London; it wasn't your typical Chinese restaurant that's for sure. I haven't been to mainland China (just Hong Kong) so I can't be sure but all these new flavours, incomparable to anything I've had before really and a menu full of dishes I'd never heard of, made it feel very authentic. I loved being so unfamiliar.

I wasn't totally sure about the scrambled eggs and soggy tomatoes that were part of my dish, it was all a bit soft and wet but ignoring that, the pac choi, lemongrass and almost.. crumbly meat, along with the intensely flavoursome dribble of sauce at the bottom of the bowl were a perfect addition to the huge hand pulled noodles. They were thick, un-uniformed and had quite a bite to them thanks to the wheat rather than rice, they were made from. Big comfort food vibe. 

I love ice cream mochi so I wasn't worried that it was the only option for dessert. Mango and green tea, both vibrantly coloured with a soft, chewy shell, one sweet and one much more understated and a little bit bitter. Both very good. 

With a few days of the month left, if you're looking for something different, I'd highly recommend you take advantage of this deal and give Murger Hanhan a try.

Sensory deprivation pods | What to expect

Friday, 16 October 2020

I first heard about sensory deprivation pods in London a few years ago and have always been very curious to try them. I guess with Covid doing its thing, it seemed like a great time to give this solitary activity a go. Not only was it as easy way to try something new without being in close contact with anyone but it is also all about clearing your mind and with everything that's going on right now, it was much needed! 

From the moment I walked into Yue Float on a rainy Saturday morning, I felt relaxed. I went super warm and comfy in my fur lined converse, high waisted trousers and aviator jacket. 

The guy at the front desk was so chill - he took our details and then it was off to get started. Very little faffing which was nice. We were admiring the wall in reception and he told us that it's actually a living moss wall which he sprays with water daily. How cool!

Yue float has two pods which were each in their private room, along with a shower, towels, ear plugs etc. The guy showed us to our rooms, explained what to do and then left us with 10 minutes to have a quick shower and get ourselves into the pod before he started the programme from the front desk.

The pods themselves were huge, alot bigger than I'd imagined which made closing the lid and being in the enclosed space, much, much easier. Claustrophobia is a part of my life so it was something I was quite worried about beforehand but alas, not a problem with the almost 8" pods.

Along with their size, the fact that the lid was super light and stayed in whichever position you left it also made the whole experience very easy. It meant I was able to start with a big gap and bring it down slowly as I started to relax. It was fully closed by the time the 10 minutes were up and we were ready to start our hour.

The water in the pods is supposed to be body temperature, although it was a little cooler than I'd have liked. It's full of Epsom salts so you float very easily although its not very enjoyable when it gets into your eyes or mouth - luckily there is a clean water spray to keep on hand in case this happens.

I closed the lid, got into a comfortable position and the lights in the pod faded out.

The first part of the session was great, getting used to the lack of sensations, getting my thoughts in order and just the novelty of being there. You very quickly loose your spacial awareness and track of time. That being said, I was a little bored by the end.

We both felt the same afterwards which was surprising. I was expecting to feel calm and serene but actually, I felt kind of dazed and unsettled, maybe emerging back into the real world was too much for me although it didn't last long at all. We headed straight into Chelsea for brunch afterwards to refuel.

Overall, it was a cool experience and something I've wanted to do for ages so I'm glad I finally got the chance to do so and tick it off my list. They say it's something you need to do a few times to get the most out of it but at £50 a pop it's not something I want to pay to do over and over. It was quite expensive in my opinion.

birthday week 2020: COVID edition

Friday, 2 October 2020

I have always loved birthdays and as usual, this year I took it as a great excuse for a week long celebration; I wasn't going to let COVID get in the way of that. Since I have absolutely no travel content to share with you at the moment I thought what I'd run down what I got up to during birthday week 2020.

My brother lives in Birmingham so he came home for the weekend and celebrations started with family, on the Sunday prior. My mum insisted that I found somewhere with outdoor seating, that we could drive to, rather than getting on the tube so we headed into Shoreditch, which I was more than happy with. Dishoom ticked both those boxes plus everything there is delicious so it was the perfect choice; we even managed to get an awesome table out on their terrace. 

I had had a hankering for a roti for weeks so that was the first thing I ordered, plus a black daahl to dip it in. We had chicken, paneer, fish, two huge legs of lamb and then all the rice and veg as well. Still not content, after a chocolate fondant with a birthday candle, we popped over to Boxpark to pick up some cronuts. 

Monday was Grandparents day so a little more understated - we just hit up Wildwood which is just on our local high street; they were also doing Eat Out To Help Out at the time. We skipped dessert and headed back home where a huge surprise cake was waiting for me! Cute. Birthday cake is my favourite.

Tuesday was my actual birthday and I spent most of it with Georgia. I started by opening cards and presents with my parents at home before a quick gym session in Bayswater. Georgia and I live at different ends of the city so when we get together, we usually pick somewhere new to explore. We did brunch at Darcie & May Green in Paddington since not only want it a new area for me but it was also on a super cool, boat on the canal. Seated out on the deck, I had my first shakshuka; Georgia ordered something very green and vegan looking plus they kept bringing us prosecco which was a very nice birthday treat! We were both very drunk and full by the time we left. 

We opted for Clapham as our next destination, I think the idea of a long last tube ride was actually what swayed us - we both fell asleep hahah. Soon enough, we were drinking more cocktails, outside in the sunshine at Venn St Records.

Wednesday, we had booked to go to an Italian in Mayfair but heading out early, we popped into Amazonico for drinks and ended up staying for food as well. It's my favourite place so once we realised they had tables, it was an easy decision.

All things considered, I had an awesome and very memorable birthday week!

GAUCHO: Going out for dinner post lockdown

Friday, 21 August 2020

Eating out has always been a huge part of my life and before March 23rd, I was doing it almost every other day so having to eat at home 24/7 was particularly hard. It's now been a couple of weeks since bars and restaurants in the UK have been allowed to re-open and I've made the most of it - I've eaten far too much of my own, terrible cooking over the past few months.

I know alot of people are still pretty scared to go out, which is why I wanted to write this post - to share my experience of this weird new world where something that used to be so normal, is now very odd - going for dinner.

black mesh off the shoulder top

Usually, I would double check my bag for my phone, card and keys. Now it's face mask, hand sanitizer and a plastic bag to sit on on the tube. Yes I know that's a bit extreme it but it makes me feel better okay?

Getting on the tube isn't quite as scary as I originally thought. A few weeks into lock down I ordered myself a contactless card because my old school one just wasn't cutting it anymore, obviously, so it's all good on that front and even though the tube is getting busier, I feel safe in terms of social distancing; with my mask firmly on my face and my plastic bag under my butt. I also tie my hair up and am very mindful throughout my journey not to touch anything. 

Sadly, I come across loads of people not wearing a mask.

Gaucho Steak

I got on at South Kensington and headed to Gaucho just a short walk from the station. Not quite full to its normal capacity to every other table, as they were limiting numbers, the place still had its usual buzz. With every other table empty, not only did it feel totally safe in terms of distancing but also a little more luxury than usual with more privacy and space. Being close enough to hear what the next table are talking about is a little pet hate of mine. 

We filled in a track and trace card and then ordered some cocktails! Pornstar martinis and then a little later, strawberry daiquiris. Yum.

passionfruit cocktails

Staff weren't wearing masks or any type of PPE for that matter. They were however, always cautious when getting close or moving things around on the table; not so much that it was a hassle though - just trying to keep their distance which obviously is a good thing right now.

Apart from that, it was pretty normal - just the odd dancing around the tables when walking past people to go to the toilet, but everyone was respectful of each other and we all had a laugh about how strange it was. There were a whole load of Uber eats bags going out through the night so obviously not everyone is as keen to get out just yet.

cocktails and burrata

I can't tell you how good it was to have have a real cocktail (or four), not just vodka and juice from the fridge at home; and also a three course meal. I started with a burrata, which of course was delicious. Then a fillet steak, cooked rare, with fries and mac n cheese on the side. We shared a sticky toffee pudding for dessert and finished up with a fresh mint tea.

By the end of the evening I had forgotten that corona virus was even a problem.

I cant speak for everywhere but Gaucho have done a very good job at maintaining their usual vibe in a safe way.

Have you braved a restaurant yet? 

Wearing my pretty mesh top from femmeluxefinery *gifted

Bicycle Adventures in London

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Now that I've started to settle into the new day to day normal, lack of travel through 2020 has become prominent in my thoughts; and whilst thinking of new ways to fulfill my passion in a safe way, I very quickly realised that there is still so much of London that I haven't explored yet.

I live just east of London, so between work and socialising, I spend alot of my time in Shoreditch, Soho or the city - rarely going further than Marble Arch. London wasn't really somewhere I thought of as an adventure; but I was very wrong there!

As soon as lockdown finished, I decided that if I cant travel (and as such, create content for my blog) the way I used to, then I'm going to make my adventures closer to home. With no choice but to stay put for a little while, I took the opportunity to go a little further out, take a different route and see where I ended up. With trains and buses out of the questions, I grabbed a helmet and hopped on a Boris bike.
Cycling was something I enjoyed so much whilst I was traveling and doing it now means I'm able to see London in all its glory, whilst keeping active (when the gyms were closed) and learning so much along the way. Rather than which station is next, I now actually know how to get from one place to another and what happens in the middle, funnily enough, you miss along when you're underground.

My current route starts at St. Paul's and from there, I head straight down to the river and join the cycle superhighway all the way through to Albert bridge; where I cross over to Battersea park.

Not only are the views on this part of my ride absolutely incredible, along the river, past the London eye and Westminster but this cycle specific road makes biking in London very enjoyable.

Discovering Battersea Park is one of the best things that has come from this whole ordeal. I just love the life inside it and often spend hours and hours there. I dont think I'll ever get bored.

The last leg of my journey is really cool. I found a riverside walkway which takes me all the way though to Wandsworth park and I really enjoy this part. Again, I've never really seen this part of London and I'm finding myself cycle past places that I see on Instagram all the time.

That's about as far as I've got so far but with my laps around the park, I've done as many as 31kms in one trip! I have a couple of friends who live in the area so now that lockdown has been eased a bit, sometimes, my trips are a little more leisurely and finish with a cold drink at the pub!

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